Transparency should trump non-disclosure agreements on RTÉ exit deals - TD

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan asked whether there can be no consequences for poor performance

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan has said that he understands that non-disclosure agreements are “sacrosanct, but that in some cases the issue of transparency and public confidence was more important.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Sullivan also said there was an issue of culpability as there seemed to be no consequences within RTÉ.

It was amazing, he added, that when an exit package was being agreed, the amount decided upon did not factor in the consequences of situations such as the losses of Toy Show The Musical.

RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst said on Monday that there is little prospect of the details of exit packages paid to senior executives who have left the broadcaster over the past two years being revealed.


It was reported over the weekend that Mr Coveney, who oversaw the failed Toy Show the Musical project, which lost some €2.3 million, was paid about €200,000 when he left RTÉ last year.

Scrutiny of exit payments made to former RTÉ executives have been under the spotlight following revelations last week that former chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe received €450,000 when leaving in 2020.

A recent independent report by McCann Fitzgerald found that the exit package had not been signed off by RTÉ's executive board as required, but instead approved by then director general Dee Forbes.

Mr O’Sullivan acknowledged that some might argue that an exit payment for Mr Coveney was cheaper than dismissing him and the case coming before the Workplace Relations Commission. “I accept that non-disclosure clauses are pretty much sacrosanct,” but he thought the person’s performance would be taken into account when an agreement was reached.

“I think in terms of some of the new directors we’re talking about here, their performances certainly are held into question.”

The morale among every day staff in RTÉ was now at an all-time low. “They’re going through the daily grind every day. They’re finding this incredibly difficult.

“At the end of the day, are we really saying that there are no consequences and penalties for underperformance in a position?”

Mr O’Sullivan said transparency was very important and he feared that upcoming investigations around the culture of governance in RTÉ and how contract workers were treated was going to continue “this whole saga.” People were sick of the drip feed of information, he said.

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Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter